Wrought stainless steel are solution annealed after processing and hot worked in order to dissolve carbides and sigma. Carbides may form during heating in the 425 to 900°C (800 to 1650°F) range or during slow cooling through this range. Sigma tends to form at temperature below 925°C (1700°F). Specifications normally require solution annealing to be done at 1035C (1900°F) with a rapid quench. The molybdenum-containing grades are frequently solution annealed at somewhat higher temperatures in the 1095 to 1120°C (2000 to 2050°F) in order to better homogenize the molybdenum.

Stainless steel may be stress relieved. There are several stress relief treatments. Guidelines follow.

Stress redistribution at 290 to 425°C (550 to 800°F), which is below the sensitization range.

When stainless steel sheet and bar are cold reduced greater than about 30% and subsequently heated to 290 - 425C (550 - 800F), there is a significant redistribution of peak stresses and an increase in both tensile strength and yield strength. Stress redistribution heat treatment at 290 - 425°C (550 - 800°F) will reduce movement in later machining operations and are occasionally used to increase strength. Since stress redistribution treatments are made at temperatures below 425°C (800°F), carbide precipitation and sensitization to intergranular attack (IGA) are not a problem for the higher carbon grades.

Stress relief at 425 to 595°C (800 to 1100°F) is normally adequate to minimize distortion that would otherwise exceed dimensional tolerances after machining. Only the low carbon "L" grades or the stabilized 321 and 347 grades should be used in weldments to be stress relieved above 425°C (800°F) as the higher carbon grades are sensitized to IGA when heated above about 425°C (800°F).

Stress relieving at 815 to 870°C (1500 to 1600°F) is occasionally needed when a fully stress relieved assembly is required. Only the low carbon "L" grades, 321 and 347 should be used in assemblies to be heat treated in this range. Even though the low carbon and stabilized grades are used, it is best to test for susceptibility to IGA per ASTM A262 to be certain there was no sensitization during stress relief treating in this temperature range.

Thermal stabilization treatments at 900°C (1650°F) minimum for 1 to 10 hours are occasionally employed for assemblies that are to be used in the 400 to 900°C (750 to 1650°F) temperature range. Thermal stabilization is intended to agglomerate the carbides, thereby preventing further precipitation and intergranular attack (IGA). As with 815 to 870°C (1500 to 1600°F) stress relief, it is best to test for susceptibility to IGA per ASTM A262.

"Heat Treating, Cleaning and Finishing", Metals Handbook, 10th edition, Vol. 4 in the section entitled "Heat Treatment of Stainless Steels and Heat-Resisting Alloys".

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Heat Treatment:

Avoid PWHT Post Weld Heat Treatment

Heat Treatment of Stainless Steel for Spring Application

Stainless Steel for Spring Application

Heat Treatment of Metals

Heat treatment Stainless Steel

The Heat Treatment of Steel

Heat Treating Terms and Definitions

Steel Metal Glossary

Metals - Material Definitions and Terms

Technic of Metals Heat Treatment

Heat Treatable Aluminium Alloys

Elements in the annealed state

Passivation of Stainless Steels

Stainless Steel Tube Bright Annealing


Martempering Marquenching




Annealing of Aluminum and Aluminum Alloys


Flame Hardening

Induction Hardening

Stress Relieving

Stress Relieving Heat Treatment for Austenitic Stainless Steel


Normalizing Normalising of Gray iron

304 Heat Treatment

304L Heat Treatment

304H Heat Treatment

321 Heat Treatment

316L Heat Treatment

317L Heat Treatment

309S Heat Treatment / Annealing

310S Heat Treatment

347 Heat Treatment

410 Heat Treatment

410S Heat Treatment

430 Heat Treatment

ASTM A380 - Practice for Cleaning, Descaling and Passivating of Stainless Steel Parts, Equipment and Systems

ASTM A967 - Specification for Chemical Passivation Treatment for Stainless Steel Parts

EN 2516 - Aerospace series - Passivation of corrosion resisting steels and decontamination of nickel base alloys

Heat temper colours on stainless steel surfaces heated in air

Chemical Composition of ACI Heat Resisting Stainless Steel